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Heetch's postcards compel Midjourney to fix bias in AI-generated images of Paris banlieues

In November 2023, we covered French ride-hailing app Heetch's campaign against biased depictions of Paris banlieues by Midjourney's generative AI. Whenever the term 'banlieue' was used in prompts, Midjourney produced dark and dystopian images, contrasting sharply with the positive imagery generated for other French phrases and locales.

In response, Heetch took thousands of photographs depicting everyday life and distributed them as "Greetings From La Banlieue" postcards in local businesses and Heetch cars, encouraging residents to share their perspectives. QR codes on the cards linked to a photo database for Midjourney's developers to use. So — did the low-tech campaign work? Time for an update.

Tens of thousands of Parisians heeded Heetch's call and sent postcards asking Midjourney to more accurately portray their neighborhoods. When the cards reached San Francisco, their message wasn't brushed aside. As shared by Heetch CMO Renaud Barthe: "We're immensely proud that we were contacted by Midjourney, which wants to integrate all of our banlieue photos — of the real banlieues — into the database that trains its model, to improve the images it generates."

Trend Bite

As much as they've morphed into global citizens, most people still feel emotionally tied to their more immediate surroundings. Especially when the place they call home is dismissed or disparaged by outsiders. By tapping into hometown pride in a meaningful way — as Heetch did — brands have the opportunity to forge deeper connections with geographically defined audiences. How could you empower citizens to effect change or rediscover their local love?

Innovation of the day

Photos by: Ancient Chaos